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Tashia Rynearson is a boarder at this time of year Tashia Rynearson is a boarder at this time of year

TASTE News Service, January 23, 2018 - A weekend in wine county normally includes several days of consuming wines along with a diet of rich foods and an exercise routine that consists of shopping—and paying the price for the excesses later!

But for a no-guilt visit to wine country, consider El Dorado wine region in the Sierra Foothills, a unique destination for winter sports fanatics.

Only an hour from Lake Tahoe skiing, El Dorado wine region offers an unexpected wine-tasting experience for exercise buffs. First-rate ski resorts such as Sierra at Tahoe and Heavenly Mountain Resort are only an alpine-forested drive from El Dorado’s wineries, so a wine-tasting trip here can morph into a winter getaway with healthy workouts.

Vintners in the region indulge their passions for the sports activities that surround their work. With vineyards planted at elevations from 1,200 to 3,500 feet, vintners with an appetite for rugged winter sports have many options for their time off.

Josh and Carrie Bendick PicmonkeyJosh and Carrie Bendick explore a high country trail

Winemakers and winery owners offer excellent advice to visitors on the best places to play. They provide expert direction on the prime spots to cross-country ski, snowshoe, and dig into drier passions, such as off-roading and mountain biking. Vintner Kevin Jones of Lava Cap, who’s from a multi-generation ski family, knows the area’s slopes. Tashia Rynearson, winemaker at Mount Aukum, can give tips on the best snowboarding runs. Lexi Boeger of Boeger Winery and her winery-founder dad, Greg, can recommend breathtaking jeep trails, and Carrie and Josh Bendick of Holly’s Hill Vineyards, avid hikers and search and rescue volunteers, can steer you to the region’s most outrageous views.

A getaway of hard workouts interspersed with chill-busting tasting of some of the red specialties of the region has its benefits. A wine taster’s palate is rejuvenated after the body has had an aggressive cardio workout. A weekend might include a glass of Barbera while cozying up to one of three fireplaces at Skinner Vineyards, tasting Zinfandel with the owners in the barrel aging caves at Cedarville Vineyard, and sharing a bottle of a rich red blend and some bread and cheese while taking in the panoramic views at Woffard Acres. If you find yourself wanting to lounge at one of the ski resorts, Sierra at Tahoe pours a very limited bottling of Zinfandel they specially select and blend from Madroña Vineyard’s Zinfandel grapes.

Editor’s note: More information about El Dorado County wine can be found at www.eldoradowines.org. And if you’re thinking of visiting the area, first visit the Gold Country and High Sierra sections of Taste California Travel’s Resource Directory where you’ll find links to the websites of Lodging and Dining options, as well as links to Wineries and even Craft Beer purveyors.

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